A cover letter can be one of the most challenging documents to write. There is no unique template to follow, and what a good cover letter looks like can vary greatly from job to job. Career advisors are still actively discussing whether attaching a cover letter is a must for every job application, but one thing is sure: if you want to apply for a role that is more than an entry-level position, you’ll be expected to attach a cover letter. In this article, we investigate the principles of a well-written introductory letter and share some tips and tricks on how to start a cover letter for a job.
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter
Job hunting involves sifting through numerous online job postings, enhancing your resume, and preparing for exhausting interviews—all of which are activities typically devoid of enjoyment. Among these tasks, crafting an impactful cover letter often poses the greatest challenge as many start to lack the energy to think about how to start a cover letter. Not only that, but the abundance of contradictory guidance on the subject makes it difficult to even determine the appropriate approach. All this raises the question of whether a cover letter is necessary, particularly when applying through an online platform.
Before diving into your writing process, it’s essential to conduct thorough research. Take the time to look at the company and the specific position you are interested in. This research will give you the information you need to guide you on how to start a cover letter.
Therefore, before starting to write your cover letter we recommend you do the following:
- Carefully review the job description.
- Explore the company’s website and social media accounts on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Every cover letter opening you write should have a specific tone that is followed throughout the whole letter. One way to go about this is to look through some social media feeds of the company’s employees. It sounds funny, but this will help you to define the appropriate tone to use. If the job is in marketing or creative-related, for example, you might want to go more imaginative, while more conservative businesses, like those in fintech, will require a more serious, businesslike tone.
Shift your focus to the future when crafting your cover letter. While your resume primarily reflects your past experiences and accomplishments, the cover letter should emphasize your aspirations and what you intend to do next.
Due to the pandemic, there is less expectation that you will be applying for a job you have previously held. Many individuals are voluntarily or involuntarily undergoing career changes and need to rethink their skill set in relation to a different role or industry. Emphasize your transferable skills and use your cover letter as a means to sell yourself effectively.
Overall, the structure of a cover letter is straightforward and should contain the following information:
- Your contact information in the header
- A greeting
- A paragraph detailing your greatest achievements designed to grab the hiring manager’s attention
- A catchy explanation about why you are a good fit for the open job position
- A closing paragraph
In most cases following this structure is more than enough to write successful cover letters; there is no need to reinvent the wheel or go crazy with super-creative writing.
What to Include in Your Contact Information
Continuing the topic of how to begin a cover letter, we need to highlight the importance of a contact information section. This is a must-have for both written and email cover letters, although with each there is a slight difference in information to include.
The contact information to include for an email cover letter includes:
- Your full name
- Your home address, including city, state, and zip code
- Your phone number
The contact information to include for a written cover letter includes:
- On the right-hand side
- Your full name
- Your home address, including city, state, and zip code
- Your phone number
- Your email address
On the left-hand side
- Recipient’s full name (if unknown, use “Dear Hiring Manager”)
- If mentioning the name, write the job title on this line
- Business name
- Business address, including city, state, and zip code
It’s always beneficial to know the name of the person you’re reaching out to. A personal approach can help ease the tension of receiving “official” mail and increase the manager’s loyalty to a candidate. And by including the manager’s contact information in a physical letter, it will be easier to locate the recipient even during busy mailing periods.
It is crucial to include accurate and current information when adding your contact information to a cover letter; otherwise, the potential employer will have no way of getting a hold of you. Be sure to include the following:
- Your full name: Start every cover letter with your first and last names. By doing this, you make it clear who the letter is from, which makes it simple to identify.
- Your mailing address: Provide the complete address for your physical mail, including the street name, city, state, and zip code. Even though the majority of communication now takes place electronically, listing your address may be advantageous in certain circumstances, such as when dealing with employers that prefer to send written correspondence.
- Your primary phone number, together with the relevant area and country codes: Make sure the phone number you list is one you frequently check and can be used to contact you. Including your phone number ensures employers can reach you quickly and directly for prospective interviews or more discussions.
- A professional email address (one you check frequently): Avoid using email addresses that are too personal or informal. A professional email address makes a good first impression and guarantees potential employers can quickly contact you for any follow-up communications via email.
- Your LinkedIn profile page: You may want to list the URL of your LinkedIn profile page in your contact information if you have a polished and professional presence on the site. A well-crafted LinkedIn profile gives companies more details about your credentials, experience, and network of contacts in the business world.
It is essential to include complete and accurate contact information in your cover letter. Doing so makes it simple for companies to reach you for potential interviews or more discussions. It reflects your professionalism, accessibility, and responsiveness. Your chances of moving forward in the application process increase when you give employers your contact information in a clear and concise manner.
How to Write a Cover Letter Greeting
The typical hiring manager has a good eye for decent candidates. In his article on LinkedIn, Andy Jones speaks about the “four-second rule” for grabbing attention, which also applies to your cover letter introduction. In other words, you need to put in a bit of effort to grab the manager’s attention within the first few lines.
So let’s talk about how to begin a cover letter so that it will definitely catch their attention. Everything starts with the greeting. It’s always a good idea to do a bit of research and find out who is who on the company's social media profiles. LinkedIn can be really helpful here because you can easily spot the hiring team. Once you are sure about the hiring manager’s name, don’t hesitate to start your letter with “Dear ” or “Dear Mr./Ms. .” Addressing the manager directly by name is the perfect introduction.
If you just can’t find the name of the person you are addressing, use a more neutral greeting. Forget about the old-school “To whom it may concern” though. Yes, it’s formal in tone, but it lacks personalization. Instead, consider using salutations like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Team.”
Tips for Writing an Effective Cover Letter Opening Paragraph
Before putting pen to paper, try to reach out to the hiring manager or someone you know within the company. Send an email or LinkedIn message to inquire about the job. You could express gratitude for a helpful conversation or mention that you recently spoke to a specific person at the company. It is important to note that contacting someone may not always be feasible, and you may not receive a response. Nevertheless, it is worth trying.
Here are some additional helpful tips when it comes to how to start a cover letter job interviewers will want to read.
Tip #1. Be genuinely yourself.
Write vividly and make it a gripping read. Everyone likes interesting pieces of writing, including hiring managers. With a cover letter, you are free to tell a story and paint a picture to make the reader smile.
Tip #2. Highlight your value.
Another hint about how to start a cover letter for a resume is to highlight the values you bring to the table right away. Don’t wait until the second or third paragraph to shine a light on your best attributes. Use the first paragraph to help the person in the manager position understand what you can do or what problem you can help them solve.
Tip #3. Make it relevant to the role.
Cover letters should always be tailored to the job you are applying for. Mention the role and company name in the opening paragraph to show you are aware of the job description. You don’t want it to look like you send a standard form letter to everybody.
Tip #4. Check your language.
Avoid standard phrases like “I’m excited to…” or “I came across your job posting…” while writing your cover letter. You have to get creative to stand out from the crowd.
Cover Letter Introduction Examples
Once you start writing your cover letter, you should imagine yourself as a sales manager. Take a deep breath and get ready to sell your skills to those who are looking for someone to help them move their projects forward. Taking this approach will help you understand how to open a cover letter in the best way possible.
So far, we’ve been talking a great deal about principles and strategies surrounding the question, “How do you start a cover letter?” But to fully provide an answer, it is necessary to study some examples. We have listed a number of examples below to inspire your inner marketing manager.
“Growing up, I spent countless hours at , bonding with my grandfather and cheering on the home team from the cheap seats. This experience has shaped my career aspirations, from pursuing a sports marketing major at my university to coaching a college baseball team to an undefeated season. Now, I am thrilled to apply for a position with .”
“The impact of on pet owners and their beloved companions is truly remarkable. As an avid user of your app, I can attest to the positive influence it has had on my , . The opportunity to be part of a company that leverages modern technology to enhance the lives of pets in cities is incredibly exciting to me.”
“When I was a child, I aspired to be the at . While that may not have been a feasible career path, discovering the events manager position at your company brings back that excitement. Working alongside my favorite company mascot would be a dream come true.”
“Attending last month was an eye-opening experience for me. I instantly fell in love with the vibrant atmosphere and innovative ideas. The moment I realized I couldn't leave without looking for job openings at your company, I knew I had found a company that aligns perfectly with my aspirations.”
“My recent apartment search in was a nightmare, but it made me realize the importance of improving the rental process. A customer service role at , where I can make a difference every day, would be incredibly fulfilling for me.”
“My previous boss once described my phone manner as ‘capable of defusing an international hostage situation.’ I possess exceptional communication skills, allowing me to effectively engage with people of all types. I am confident these skills would make me a valuable asset as your .”
“Among my colleagues, I am known as the go-to person when things go awry. Regardless of the challenges that arise, I excel at problem-solving and bringing order to chaos. That's why I believe I am the perfect fit for the .”
“Just last year, I was promoted to the in our company and have maintained that position ever since. I am now ready to take on a new challenge, and the role at your company is precisely what I am seeking.”
“I am deeply passionate about data, and I believe that my enthusiasm aligns perfectly with the values of . Joining your team would be a natural fit for me.”
“Ever since I was a child, I have been offering style advice to friends and family. It's about time I turned my passion into a paid profession as a , and that's why I am thrilled to apply for the open position at .”
“After exploring various roles at early-stage startups in and attending countless ‘find your passion’ seminars, I've discovered that my true happiness lies in two things: writing exceptional content and sharing it with the world. I am excited to bring this passion to your team.”
“Recently, I took a career assessment that suggested I should pursue a career as a . While I'm not entirely sure what that entails, I am confident that combining my skills in business development with my lifelong love for the industry would be a dream come true. That's why I am eager to apply for the role at .”
As you might notice, the first paragraph is far from the usual cover letter fare highlighting the applicant’s exact number of years of experience or work accomplishments. Again, think about how to start off a cover letter to ensure it meets the following criteria:
- It’s brief.
- It’s gripping.
- It’s personalized.
- It’s tailored to the open job position.
Thoughtful planning and personalization are essential when brainstorming how to start a cover letter for a resume. There is no one-size-fits-all template or universal example, but there are successful ways to catch the hiring manager's eye and leave a good first impression.
To properly create a cover letter, first extensively study the business and the open position. When sitting down to write the letter, your introduction should be interesting, and it should emphasize the value you provide to the business and show how it relates to the position. It is also essential to provide your entire name, address, phone number, and business email address as well as other pertinent contact information.
Anyone in the job search can create appealing and personalized cover letters to strengthen their job applications or share their own unique take on how to start a resume cover letter.